Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/122

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glowing anticipations of a glorious future, and land speculation was the chief business of the hour. When the brief period of splendour had departed, and it became evident that Geelong was not destined to be the first of Victorian cities, the land became in consequence considerably depreciated in value, and the little estate, for which £50,000 had been refused, was afterwards sold for one-twentieth of that sum.

Sir Richard Bourke, the brave old Limerick soldier who was the Governor of New South Wales at the time, visited the infant settlement at Port Phillip in March, 1837, and was so delighted with the picturesque appearance and surroundings of Geelong, and so struck with its natural capacity for accommodating a large population, that he strongly favoured the proposal to make it the capital in preference to Melbourne. He advocated this view before a conference of government officials and leading colonists, which he had convened for the purpose of finally selecting the site of the capital. The balance of opinion, however, was against the Governor, and having gracefully acquiesced in the decision of the majority, he proclaimed Melbourne as the metropolis of the rising colony. Mr. Richard Howitt, who visited the place not long afterwards, remarks in his book of Australian impressions: "I reached Geelong in the evening, and was much pleased with the neighbourhood. With the locality of Geelong itself no one can be undelighted. The town is secondary only to Melbourne. It has progressed wonderfully, and, should this country become more prosperous, must at no distant date almost equal its more fortunate prototype, the metropolitan city of Australia Felix."

To the energy and public spirit of one of its mayors